We have had our fair share of bad luck in the hamster department. Ryan desperately wanted a hamster for Christmas a few years back. He got a cute hamster, "Caramel", full of personality. A few weeks after he became part of our family, our furnace went out and it got really cold in Ryan's room. I didn't worry about it since the kids were all at school. A few days later, Ryan commented that his hamster wasn't moving and just wanted to sleep. I checked on his hamster. Not moving. And not sleeping. I did some hamster research and found out they easily go into hibernation when temperatures drop. And if not quickly awoken, die from dehydration and starvation. I felt so guilty for not bringing his cage upstairs into the warm part of the house.
A month later, on Valentine's Day, we tried it again. It was the only teddy bear hamster at the pet store and we were told it was almost a year old (didn't know hamsters only live about a year). Ryan didn't care. He wanted a hamster and didn't want to wait another day. "Valentine" came home and died about 3 weeks later.
Several months passed with little talk of the empty cage and the need to fill it with a new furry friend. But as Ryan's 11th Birthday approached, it was all he could talk about. The only thing he wanted for his birthday was a Black Bear Hamster. I called all over town and couldn't find any in stock. Then I called a new pet store in town and was in luck. They had one in their store. It was the night before Ryan's birthday and he immediately fell in love with "Bengal" (named after his football team).
About 4 months later, Ryan came upstairs, carrying Bengal and was worried about a lump he could feel on her neck. I thought it was just food in one of her pockets. But the lump continued to grow. I called the pet store and was given the name of vet who specialized in small animals. I called to schedule an appointment and hesitated when I found out it would cost $55 just for the consultation and would need to pay more if I decided to treat the lump. I called Gavin and we decided that it was our responsibility as pet owners to take her in, even if she did only cost $12. The vet examined her (and let me know it was a her) and then said he could do surgery on her tumor but it would cost $300-400 and the tumor could return. He also said she wasn't in any pain but as the tumor grew it would get harder for her to eat and function. We decided to take her home and let Ryan love her while he could.
The tumor grew and grew. Crazy actually how fast it grew. And Bengal could no longer walk without falling over. She couldn't eat or drink without us hand feeding her. It was so sad and I felt like she was suffering.
We were all outside last night enjoying the warm night when our neighbor walked by with his dog. He had no choice but to stop with all of the excited cries from Mia, Morgan and Griffin. "Doggy! Doggy! Doggy!" We found out he is a veteranarian and could put Bengal to sleep. I called today and made an appointment. I made the appointment late in the afternoon so Ryan could be a part of it. Not sure if that was the best choice. But he felt like it was time to help Bengal. We drove to the office. Ryan held Bengal during the drive. We got to the office and both Ryan and I went back and watched. Ryan was doing well until the doctor came back out with Bengal. He knew Ryan wanted to take her home and bury her. He had the perfect place. The doctor held Bengal and then said, "It looks like her heart has now stopped beating" and gave Ryan his lifeless hamster. He then started to talk to me about the proper burial procedures and I was doing my best to hold back the tears. I felt silly crying over a hamster. But it was so much harder than I thought it would be. As soon as he finished and I turned towards the door, the tears started falling. Ryan was walking ahead of me. I couldn't see him but was certain he was crying, too. We got in the car and he sobbed the whole way home. It broke my heart to see him so sad.
We buried him in the backyard, in between some bushes. For some reason, Ryan thought if we brought him home he'd still be able to see him. So he had another breakdown when he realized he wouldn't see him after he was buried. After I finished digging the hole, Jack ran and got his trumpet and said he wanted to play Taps for the burial. Trying to bring some humor into the sadness. Ryan didn't like his attempt and hit his trumpet while he was playing. It made me smile and wish I had someone video taping our burial ceremony.
Ryan made this rock to put on her grave.
We weren't going to get another hamster. If the 3rd time wasn't a charm, what does that mean for the 4th time? It was time for Ryan to go to piano. His eyes were red and swollen. I asked him what he thought about getting another hamster. "Can I??? Really??? Oh, thank you mom!"
Guess who's going hamster shopping tomorrow!